The ultimate guide to the best hot springs in Iceland

travel tips for iceland blue lagoon iceland

Iceland is hot. Hot as a travel destination and hot in the ground. As it’s located right on the ridge of two tectonic plates there is a lot of movement and geothermal activity. When going to Iceland, you can’t miss a visit to a hot spring. Or a hot pool. Or a hotpot, as the Icelanders call it. I’ve written a couple of posts about the best hot springs in Iceland and they are among the most popular posts on my entire blog. So I figured I’d combine them into one post, making this ultimate guide to the best hot springs in Iceland. Having been to Iceland no less than eight times over the past ten years, I think I can say I’ve become quite an expert to all there is to know about hot springs in Iceland. Here goes!

The Blue Lagoon

The number one hot spring to visit in Iceland is of course the Blue Lagoon. However, you should really consider whether this is what you’re expecting of it. Over the past years, the Blue Lagoon has become a major tourist attraction and during my last visit, there were even more visitors than they could handle, despite the fact we had booked our entrance well in advance. If you are looking for an authentic, quiet soak into a natural hot spring, then the Blue Lagoon is definitely not for you. In my opinion, it’s overpriced, way too crowded and it doesn’t really look like a natural spring anymore, with construction going on most of the time. However, if you really don’t want to visit Iceland without bathing in the milky blue water and/or if you just have too little time to visit one of my other suggestions, then you should definitely visit. The 2017 entrance fee to The Blue Lagoon is ISK 5.400 and please note you need to book your slot in advance. My full blog with reasons why you should not go to the Blue Lagoon can be found here!
hot springs in iceland

Paid alternatives to the Blue Lagoon

There are various hot springs in Iceland that offer pretty much the same facilities as the Blue Lagoon. My choice would be to go to Fontana Spa in Laugarvatn. This place is just about an hour drive from Reykjavík and located on the shores of Laugarvatn Lake (vatn means water). This does not just mean that you can actually overlook a lake rather than buildings and many of other people, but also that you can take a totally natural dip into cold water between saunas, which is said to have beneficial health effects. Entrance to the Laugarvatn Fontana Spa is ISK 3.800 which also gives you entrance to various saunas, rather than just a nature bath.
Another great option is to go to Myvatn Nature Baths up north in Iceland. If you are heading this far, that is. I’ve not been there myself but Martijn (my former partner) has been many times as a tour guide and according to him, it’s even better than The Blue Lagoon because it’s more quiet. Especially in off peak season it will be since not too many people bother to go all the way up north, in summer it can still get quite crowded here. In low season the entrance fee to Myvatn Nature Baths is ISK 3.800, in high season (mid May – September) it’s ISK 4.300.
If you fancy a quick plunge into a hot bath but can’t be too bothered about fancy changing rooms and spa-facilities, then just head to the Laugardalslaug swimming pool in Reykjavík. It’s located next to the City Hostel and Campsite and has a large swimming pool and various hot tubs. The entrance fee is currently not published online but I remember paying a small amount of money not even coming close to the entrance fees of the facilities I previously mentioned.

Free hot pools in nature

Icelanders love bathing in hot water and have there for made many pools and hotpots that are easily accessible. You will notice that many accommodations have their own manmade hotpots or small swimming pool. However if your hotel doesn’t have one, you can always head to one that’s right outside in nature. A great one to visit is Seljavallalaug on Iceland’s South Coast. When driving on the Ring Road from Reykjavík take the 242 left, just a little before Skogár. It’s an unpaved road in poor condition so take it easy while driving, as your rental car insurance probably does not cover unpaved roads. From the parking lot you will have to walk for some fifteen minutes until you reach the pool. The facilities look a bit dodgy but the water is nice and warm. Plus the area is stunning, you are right in the middle of nature.
hot springs in iceland
Another option is, in case you are not going much further than Reykjavík, is to head out to Grottá Island which is a peninsula west of the city. There you will find a tiny hotpot that can fit no more than two or three people. There are no changing facilities here and since space is super limited, you will have to be lucky to be able to get yourself a spot. The views over the bay and the lighthouse in the distance are stunning though.

Hot streams to bathe in

If you fancy going for the real deal, then continue reading. Because coming up are my two suggestions for hot streams that you can visit for free. They are both located right in the middle of nature and will give you an authentic Icelandic experience. My favorite place to bathe is the hot stream near Landmannalaugar, Iceland’s most amazing place for hiking if you ask me. The drive here is tricky and should only be done in summer and with a 4×4 because you will have to cross various streams. Your best option is to take a bus from Reykjavík and then stay for a night or two. You can only camp here or stay in the simple mountain hut. The good thing about this place is that many people visit during the day, but during the night, many people are gone. As it’s light for 24 hours in summer, you can bathe here all by yourself at night or in early morning, like I did last summer.
alternatives for the blue lagoon landmannalaugar
If you prefer to stay closer to Reykjavík then make a trip to Reykjadalur Valley. You can park your car in Hveragerdi, which is about a 45 minute drive from Reykjavík. From here, you will still have to walk for about an hour until you reach the point where the stream actually gets warm. You will not be the only one here, the number of people will indicate where you can head into the water comfortably. They have recently built some boardwalks here to protect the nature but both times I visited (in summer AND winter) were before this, therefor you won’t see them on the pictures below.
alternatives for the blue lagoon reykjadalur

What to bring when going to hot springs in Iceland

When going to some hot springs in Iceland, you don’t need a whole lot. First of all, bring your swimming gear. Naked is not done, not even in the saunas they have in the spas. Also bring a towel because renting one can become pretty expensive. If you are going to a paid facility, make sure to also bring shampoo so you can wash your hair afterwards. Never do this in the natural streams though because it can really mess up nature. Flip flops may come in handy too because the terrain can sometimes be rocky and painful to walk on barefoot. Don’t forget to bring a big bottle of water as well, hydrating is super important when you’re going to a hot pool or sauna. Other than that, you don’t really need anything else!
That’s it, my ultimate guide to the hot springs in Iceland. I’m sure there are a few more but I think I’ve got the most ones covered. I hope you found this guide useful. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions and/or if you’d like to know more about a specific facility. If I can’t answer your question, I know quite a bunch of people in Iceland who can!
Have you been to any hot springs in Iceland during your visit? Which one would you recommend?
Want to read more about Iceland? You may also enjoy these posts:
How to avoid the crowds when traveling in Iceland
How to stay warm in Iceland
Where to find the DC-3 plane wreck on Iceland’s South Coast
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